Monday, 19 March 2012 21:27

Akron Passes Operating Budget For 2012

Akron City Council has passed the city's operating budget for 2012.

Budget and Finance Chair Garry Moneypenny tells about the biggest change in the budget.

"The most major change would be a decrease of $27 million dollars or overall 5 percent," he said.

The 2012 operating budget is $502 million, which is down from last year's budget of $528 million.

Moneypenny says the Council body was instrumental in moving forward with its adoption and passage Monday evening.

"I believe a lot of these council people did their homework, came back the following day to the budget hearings and asked the important questions they needed to in looking over the budget before it was passed.

Moneypenny said the budget was very lean, and in overall operating expenses would be reduced with its passage. He says Akron residents can expect the same quality services, just with less people.

"We have no laid-off full time employees at this point, we do have some seasonal employees that maybe won't be hired back this summer, so we are following the model of doing more with less."

The councilman adds that City Finance Director Diane Miller Dawson did a "phenomenal job" of organizing the budget meetings and providing City Council with the information they needed to adopt the budget.

Miller-Dawson says Akron's tax amnesty program is one of the main programs in terms of generating revenue.

"We're hoping the amnesty program will help us grow income tax revenues that will offset some of the cuts we'll be receiving from the State."

The city's employment numbers are the lowest they've been since the 1960's with over 1700 employees.

"Our employees have been working hard and they've been doing their part in balancing the budget by submitting their budget requests and cutting expenses where they can."

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As Akron starts to finalize its operating budget for 2012,  the city projects income taxes are expected to be up, while property taxes drop.

Finance Director Diane Miller-Dawson says the city will be struggling with local government revenues this fiscal year.

"We're projecting the cut to be between 4 to $4.5 million."

"Our employment is the lowest its been since the 1960's and we're down to 1740 employees."

State law says the budget must be in place by the end of the year, City Council is expected to vote on it March 19.

  City Finance Director Diane Miller-Dawson by Akron NewsNow

Miller-Dawson says the newly-created tax amnesty program is becoming one of the main revenue-generating programs in the city.

"We're hoping that will help us grow income tax revenues that will offset some of the cuts we'll be receiving from the State."

"We've been working really hard to try and control expenses and the other thing we've been looking into is how to create revenue," she says.

The amnesty program is aimed at collecting unpaid income taxes and would allow residents and local businesses to pay the taxes and interest without penalty.

City departments were asked to submit budget requests by the administration in an effort to control expenses.

Another aspect of the operating budget concerning the city is health care . All city workers with the exception of Civil Service Personnel Association members will be paying into their premiums

"Our medical bills continue to climb, even though our employees are paying  a share of their medical premiums, it isn't enough to counteract the inflation in our health-care costs," she says.

Miller- Dawson  says the administration is pleased that city workers have been doing their part to balance the budget.

"We continue to try and hold our own and we recognize our employment levels have been the lowest they've been since the 60's and everyday, our employees go out and work very very hard, so they deserve a big 'thanks' for what they do for the citizens of Akron."

The proposed city operating budget for this year is $502 million.

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